What’s on your skin?

Keri Nivea, Aveeno, Vaseline, St. Ives, Jergens, and Olay. That’s just a few of the lotion brands available in your local pharmacy. Each boasts its own set of skin benefits, but there is only one hydrating ingredient in any of these lotions: oil.

Why bother with the other, extra ingredients? These days, it isn’t always easy to know exactly what’s in the things you eat, let alone the things you slather over your skin each day.

Keeping it simple makes it easier to know what is going in or on your body.

Oils are fascinating, says Jean-Yves Dionne, a leading expert in natural remedies in Quebec. Not only that, but there are many oils from which you can choose. Argan oil, reportedly one of the rarest oils on earth, is an excellent hydrating oil. He also recommends rosehip oil. Both argan and rosehip oils are said to be excellent facial moisturizers that help fight wrinkles.

Moringa oleifera oil is fascinating, he says. It helps reduce inflammation by soothing irritated skin and getting rid of redness. Avocado oil is odorless and ideal for removing makeup.

Coconut oil, which is incredibly popular and a cure-all for many, for any skin ailment, is too fatty for Dionne’s tastes. He prefers to use it in cooking.

Other natural ingredients can help keep skin hydrated, like green tea.

According to a 2013 study conducted by researchers from the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences of the University of Sao Paulo in Brazil, “green tea-containing cosmetic formulations have pronounced moisturizing effects.”

Participants had green tea applied to their forearm and were observed over a 30-day period, during which positive outcomes regarding skin elasticity, and water content were observed.

“Applying green tea products topically may protect against the sun and have other benefits, but the method isn’t as effective in acting on the skin’s structure, Dionne says. For a more in-depth effect, green tea should be drunk.” It helps with scarring and fights wrinkles from the inside out.

Tips to make the right choice

Dionne’s a fan of simple cosmetic solutions, including soap. He called the bars of soap available in stores abrasive; he makes his own soap using the oil of his choice and lye. It’s a simple process, but it’s not for everyone.

For those who find making cosmetics is too hands-on or time-consuming, Dionne offered up a few tricks to keep tabs on what cosmetics and personal hygiene products people should take home, or not.

Reading labels is important. Something that claims to contain argan oil may have only a tiny amount of the stuff.

Ingredients are listed based on how much of a given ingredient is present in the product. The more an ingredient is present, the higher it appears on the list. That means there’s more of the first ingredient than anything else in any given product.

“Sometimes, a product is marketed as containing a sought after component, like argan oil, even if that ingredient is only present in small quantities, Dionne says. A good rule of thumb to avoid marketing traps is to read the ingredients to find out where the star component appears in the list. Anything listed after the perfume or the preservatives should be ignored because the amount is negligible.”

What’s on your skin?

About The Author
- Nathalie Gagnon-Joseph is a freelance journalist currently based in Montreal with experience in print, radio, and television.

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